All the way back in 2021 we reported on the importance of accessibility as expressed by Motive, the developer working on the remake of Dead Space. While it often feels like we’re still in 2021, it has been a while since then, and today the Dead Space remake has finally been released for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S. To accompany the release, Electronic Arts has published some news to detail the accessibility features players can expect.
I know I sound like a broken record, we love seeing this kind of information get shared by companies. Others have been making this effort recently, and it’s great to find EA continuing this positive trend. In EA’s news article we hear from Lead Senior Experience Designer Christian Cimon. Christian tells us how much accessibility has improved in the industry since the original game came out, so when they set out to rebuild the game, they wanted to make sure the accessibility improved along with the rest of the game.
Extensive accessibility settings
Players can expect subtitle customization including size, color, and background settings. Speaker names can be enabled too. There are several audio settings, like separate volume sliders for different types of sounds. Mono audio is also available and can be panned from left to right, to meet a player’s needs.
Menu narration is available, as well as several color blind modes. Effects like screen shake and motion blur can be turned off, and a persistent center dot can be enabled, which could help players avoid motion sickness.
Controls are remappable, and sensitivity and dead zones can be adjusted. Quick Time Events and hold actions can be switched to a single button press, and there is adjustable aim assist as well. These options are especially helpful for players with limited mobility.
Dead Space further includes several difficulty levels including a story mode, and allows for many manual saves. If players lose their way, the locator can be set to automatically orient the player towards their next objective. This is a great feature to improve a game’s cognitive accessibility, I can personally attest to getting lost or distracted more times than I can remember.
Content warnings and more
Going beyond these invaluable additions we find something equally, if not more, special. Content warnings are not new to games, but you may not expect them in a horror game like Dead Space. It makes sense, the horror genre is able to immerse and scare you more than others. For some, graphic content can be a very real and dangerous trigger and this concern was recognized by the developers. Morgan Baker, EA’s Program Lead for Game Accessibility, tells us the team wanted to give players control over how such content is shown.
It’s about addressing and removing barriers that come between our players and games.Morgan Baker, Program Lead for Game Accessibility
Christian explains the two content warning features, which are disabled by default. The first displays a non-intrusive popup at the top of the screen, showing the content warning with some context. The second option displays the popup, and blurs the offending content so the player does not see it. The audio still remains. The content warnings are primarily aimed at content involving humans. It should help make Dead Space more accessible to players who would otherwise avoid horror games due to triggering content.
Both Morgan and Christian remark how game design keeps evolving, and accessibility is no different. More and more accessibility features are becoming part of the norm. As we know, accessibility improves the experience of all players, and for a business it unlocks a larger target audience. A classic win-win scenario!